Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing in NYC

Learn how to heal trauma by listening to your body.


What Is Somatic Experiencing (SE)?

We specialize in somatic experiencing in NYC.

Traumatic experiences always have an impact on us. Oftentimes, these impacts manifest as emotional changes or responses, such as anxiety, panic attacks, and anger. Other effects of trauma include a physical and physiological manner. 

We’re talking about how your body reacts to stress and traumatic triggers and how this can ultimately affect your healing journey.

Somatic experiencing (SE) is an alternative body-mind therapy developed by Peter Levine.

The approach is based on the idea that your mind isn’t the only one negatively affected by trauma — your body is as well. It’s a “body first” approach to healing from trauma. It focuses on helping people heal from trauma by paying closer attention to their bodies. 

The goal of somatic experiencing is to help you uncover the different bodily sensations and responses associated with your trauma. More importantly, somatic experiencing therapy aims to help you regulate these physical responses to better resolve symptoms of trauma.

How Does Somatic Experiencing Work?

You may have heard of the fight or flight response, but something not a lot of people may not be familiar with is the freeze response.

When the body does not have the option or does not feel safe going into fight or flight, the body freezes — and then continues to stay in a “frozen” state. Instead of resetting and going back to a peaceful or neutral state, the body retains the energy it accumulated in preparation for fight or flight.

Holding onto this built up energy results in denying your body the opportunity to fully process your trauma. It causes the nervous system to be dysfunctional and continue behaving as if it is still under threat.

This puts the body in a hypervigilant or stressed state, making your muscles tense, your heart rate go faster, and your breathing rate speed up.

Somatic Experiencing explores where an individual may be “stuck” in a fight, flight, or freeze response and works with an individual’s natural resilience to move through these “stuck” self-protective responses. 

Somatic experiencing can help people with:


      • Anxiety or panic attacks

      • Grief

      • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

      • Different kinds of trauma

      • Decreasing physical and psychological discomfort

For these reasons, somatic experiencing may also be helpful for those struggling with chronic pain and substance abuse disorders.

One study found that somatic experiencing helped 44% of the study participants with PTSD reverse their diagnosis and maintain the result even during follow-up checks.

What is the difference between Somatic Experiencing (SE) and Somatic Therapy?

Somatic Therapy is a type of body-centered psychotherapy that emphasizes the connection between the body and mind. Unlike Somatic Experiencing, it focuses on exploring the relationship between emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations in order to gain insight and understanding into how trauma has impacted the individual. It includes the use of body-based exercises and techniques to help treat symptoms of trauma-related symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. It encompasses various approaches that involve the body, which may include yoga therapy, dance therapy, and body-centered psychotherapy. 

Somatic experiencing (SE) is a type of therapy used to help trauma survivors process and recover from the impacts of trauma. It is based on the idea of working with the body’s natural healing processes to help survivors recover from traumatic events. Through the use of a variety of techniques, such as slow diaphragmatic breathing, focused attention, and body-awareness exercises, SE helps to restore balance and harmony to the body’s nervous system.

Somatic experiencing helps individuals resolve symptoms of trauma by releasing physical tension and noticing sensations associated with traumatic experiences. For example, your therapist may help you to focus on bodily sensations and movements, and allow you to experience instinctual responses that may have been suppressed during the traumatic event. 


NYC Therapists Who Specialize in Somatic Experiencing

Connecting with the right therapist is the most important factor in your search. We’re here to help you find a great match.

What Does Somatic Experiencing Look Like?

Certified somatic experiencing practitioners use different methods to help clients learn to be more aware of their body’s physical responses to stress or the physical symptoms of trauma. They then help you learn how to use self-regulating strategies, so you can “reset” your body responses.

Somatic experiencing promotes safer and more comfortable body experiences. It focuses more on helping you release the pent-up energy and tension caused by your trauma that may be weighing you down.

This can be done using a variety of techniques, such as:

      • Soothing Breath – Breath and touch can help soothe both the body and the mind. Slow deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing a feeling of relaxation and calmness.

      • Relaxation techniques

      • Visualizations

      • Other forms of body movement

      • The Voo Sound – Making sounds and vibrations with your own voice can have a soothing effect on the body and can also be a means to discharge activation.

The release of this pent-up tension may also result in crying, shaking, shivering, and more. 

    Other techniques and tools therapists use in somatic experiencing include:


      Resourcing is similar to grounding. It uses your positive memories to help you stay calm in the face of traumatic triggers. Recalling the happy feelings from these positive resources gives you an emotional anchor.

      Regularly falling back on these positive memories — whether they are of a person, place, or object — helps you bolster your innate strength. Repeated practice helps you become more resilient and develop a greater sense of peace when re-encountering trauma sensations.


      The aim of titration is to slow down the re-introduction of your trauma, so you can better handle the effects it may cause. Somatic experiencing therapists do so by starting out slow and small.

      While slowly revisiting your traumatic memories, your therapist will closely track your bodily responses. This is often done through a close observation of your responses during sessions. They help you identify each physical response you make or sensation you feel and address them one by one.


      Pendulation refers to the alternating between memories or sensations linked to your trauma and ones that are a source of peace, comfort, and strength — similar to how a pendulum swings left and right.

      Your therapist will slowly guide you from a relaxed state to a stressed one. This is usually repeated several times, so you can let go of your pent-up energy. Guiding you back to a peaceful, relaxed state lets you release the anxiety and discomfort that results in finally letting go of your tension.


      Sequencing helps you become more familiar with the order your physical sensations leave your body — not just when they occur. Somatic experiencing therapists guide you through identifying minute details of your body responses and when each one occurs.

      Greater familiarity with the sequence or order that they happen in may help you improve how you self-regulate these responses. If you know how your body would respond and which one comes next, you can better prepare, so you can get back into a relaxed state by yourself.

        What if I’m Not Ready To Start Therapy?

        If you don’t feel ready, know that you’re not alone. When we experience something for the first time we can often feel fear and that is okay. It takes courage to be vulnerable and step into this work.

        There will be moments of discomfort, and that discomfort can be our teacher. The discomfort shows us what we need to bring our energy to. The intimidation or fear you might be feeling is not an indicator that this process is not for you.

        In the meantime there are helpful resources you can access while you explore your options:

          When you feel ready to start on your somatic experiencing therapy journey, we’ll be here.

          Are You Ready To HeaL?

          Get in touch today.

          Somatic experiencing can help you deepen the connection between your mind and body to understand, process, and resolve your emotional concerns including trauma. To learn more, schedule a free consult with one of our NYC therapists who specialize in somatic experiencing.

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